Ofcom refuses to interpret abandoned calls legislation | DMA

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Ofcom refuses to interpret abandoned calls legislation


The DMA is urging Ofcom to review its stance on interpreting its ‘persistent misuse’ policy on abandoned calls.

Despite the DMA’s belief that the regulator has a clear remit to interpret the law and give guidance, it is refusing to offer much needed clarification around the use of automatic diallers and a possible threshold for abandoned calls.

Currently hundreds of UK brands use automated diallers. These diallers can result in occasional ‘abandoned calls’ whereby the customer will receive a recorded message explaining who has called and why. Responsible brands have been working to a 3% ‘safe harbour’ whereby a maximum of 3% of their calls could result in the customer receiving this type of message.

This had previously been unanimously accepted by industry as the level at which an organisation could operate compliantly. With the release of Ofcom’s latest version of its policy they make it clear that this was a misinterpretation by industry. Brands and call centres will now have to decide for themselves what they consider to be ‘persistent misuse’ causing uncertainty across the industry.

The DMA is concerned that the regulator’s decision and its refusal to provide guidance will not achieve the stated aim of reducing the number of silent and abandoned calls. Instead, it will increase costs for UK businesses and potentially force them down other routes such as moves to more impersonal recorded messages.

In the interests of contact centres and ultimately their customers, the DMA believes that a ‘safe harbour’ should be reinstated to allow a small proportion of abandoned calls.

Mike Lordan, Director of External Affairs, DMA, comments: “We are calling on Ofcom to fulfil their role as the industry regulator and give the necessary guidance to companies. The current policy only details how the regulator will enforce the policy but not what the policy actually means.

“We completely agree with Ofcom’s stance on silent calls which can be both alarming and threatening to consumers. However, to apply this rule to abandoned calls is a mistake. This will hurt responsible businesses yet have no effect on rogue organisations that will continue to ignore the rules. It will also result in a far worse experience for consumers as live agents will be replaced by more recorded messages. By refusing to set a limit on the number of legitimate abandoned calls or guidance on how to define ‘persistent misuse’ Ofcom have added yet more uncertainty and concern for businesses trying to operate compliantly.”

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